The Christmas tree sitting proudly in my living room is dying. Hand cut two days after Thanksgiving; it is already beginning to show its age. It is the equivalent of a grumpy old man sitting on his front porch yelling at the birds for making noise. The branches are starting to droop down towards the floor like the circles under my eyes. Ornaments are barely hanging on because the tree has the strength of a newly hatched butterfly.
And now, Mr. Evergreen looks like he is in a state of anger and denial. It is going to need Botox if it is hoping to make it for another five days.
Of course, my parents lost their tree four days after they got it. Just before the annual book club Christmas party- so ALL their friends could witness the final stages of death. Brown needles plastered the floor, the fire department declared it a safety hazard, and any chance of my mom getting any house plants for Christmas was out the door.
In a world where we are all conscious of our carbon footprint, driving electric cars and eating food created out of paste with artificial flavoring, why do we cut down trees for Christmas?
Did you know that 25-30 million Christmas trees are sold every year? I spent $175.00 on mine alone. A small fortune when Christmas is 28 days away and you still have a teenager living in the house. My calculator can’t compute that high of a profit margin.
There are five days before Christmas, and I am already having nightmares about de-decorating the house. I will need to get a new vacuum just to clean up the mess. Kool Kat Kona and Puppy Polar Bear have hidden half the Christmas bulbs somewhere in the house and I can’t find them. The garland hanging around the doors is already falling off the frame. And my artificial Christmas wreath on the front door looks like a wet cat…just sad and miserable.
My son and I had to go to Wal-Mart yesterday to get food for our weekly dinners. The sounds of Mariah Carey Christmas songs wafted through the air. The shelves of Christmas candy and $5.00 stocking stuffers looked like a herd of wild horses had trampled through them. Signs of Valentine cards intertwined with ‘Happy New Years!’ hats and Saint Paddy Day beads.
Christmas is darn well over before the presents are even wrapped this year.
I would love to rant about the missing Christmas spirit, but honestly, that left when Starbucks decided it was no longer willing to sell Eggnog Lattes.
This year though is the year of Christmas with no suitcases in my family. No one is traveling to spend the day together, unless you call the 30-minute drive to my parents’ house traveling. No loans had to be taken out to afford plane tickets, no grumpy grandpa hiding in the study to get away from the noise. No teenagers pouting about having nothing to do and missing their friends. This is the Christmas that Hallmark movies are made of.
Then again, there have been no arguments about whether or not we should go to Seattle for a day. There is no girl’s afternoon of Medi’s and Pedi’s where we complain about boys and talk about all the New Year’s resolutions that we are NOT making. No early morning chit-chats over coffee as seven people attempt to all take morning showers at the same time. No silent disapproving stares as I steal the last of my father’s home-made moonshine at 8 a.m.
I am not trying to be a grinch about Christmas. It is just that Christmas is maturing into something different as my children begin fleeing the home in search of their own traditions. The stress of Christmas presents is just as overwhelming- and it is just as expensive. But now the lead-up is different.
I am growing old and bitter.
Like my Christmas tree.
But I have a plan! Next year I am buying an overpriced plastic tree that will stay perky and upright through the whole season. One of those artificial trees that you just push a button and unfolds by itself, pre-decorated with lights and ornaments. And when the blessed day after Christmas arrives, I will push another button and it will fold nicely into its original box!
White lights on a Christmas tree that glow brightly. Garnished with gaudy tinsel and popcorn garland. I will play every 1960’s Christmas movie known to man and sing ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’, while baking cookies instead of buying the Wal-Mart $0.99 special. I may even get one of those inflatable reindeer to put on my roof!
I have dreams! Next year I will get this right! Next year will be the year of the Christmas tree come back!
Or maybe I will go to Hawaii.
That sounds good too!